Saturday, April 27, 2013

Revival in Montana

Billings, MT from the Rim Rocks
Each year during Spring Break, the Seminary sends students and teachers to churches throughout the country to preach revival services for Revive This Nation. Most of the churches that request preachers are small town churches with a small congregation. This was our 4th Spring Break at the seminary and the first year that Daniel was able to preach. We were placed in a church in Billings, Montana. (Just north of Yellowstone) We stayed with the pastor and his wife and served Bethel Baptist Church that week.
We had quite a time getting to Billings (and another interesting time getting home, but more on that later). The seminary booked Daniel's ticket and paid for him to get there. I had to book my own ticket and pay for myself. By the time I booked my ticket, his ticket was too expensive so I decided to fly separately, but we still got there together on the same plane, and left Billings to head home on the same plane. I got an email on Friday night around 10pm that one of my connections was canceled due to weather in Denver. After waiting an hour to talk to a rep at Orbitz they told me they would have to contact United and it was an hour wait on their phone too. We found out that Daniel's flight into Denver was canceled too. The rep told us to just show up early and talk to someone at the ticket counter. So we got to the airport around 10am. We stopped at United and they told us we had to go to American since they were our first flight, they technically bought the tickets for us. We wait in line for about 45 minutes at American and finally get to the counter. The guy spent TWO HOURS trying to get us on a plane. Finally he did. We made it to Billings around midnight. We crashed.
On Sunday morning Daniel put on his suit and we headed to the church.We were way early because the pastor wanted to practice guitar. It was time change Sunday and a couple showed up early. I started talking with them and the man said he hadn't been to church in a long time but he knew he needed to start coming again. His wife and his daughter were with him. His wife is from Cambodia and she is Budist but encouraged her husband to come to church and wanted to come with him. I really enjoyed my conversation with them. There were several other people who showed up but I didn't get to meet all of them. I would guess they had an attendance of about 30. Daniel started his sermon series of John 14-16. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Dick gave an alter call and a teenage girl came up front and prayed to receive Christ. :-D She had been talking with the pastor and her grandmother and that Sunday she made the decision.

We ate lunch at the church with the members and had the chance to start getting to know people. This church is located in a low income area. Most of its members are disabled in some way, whether it is physically (mostly health problems) or mentally. During the week we had the chance to hear some of the testimonies and we were in awe of how these people overcame some of their problems when they found God. We went home well fed and enjoyed a short nap before we headed back to the church for the evening service.

On Monday we hung out at the pastor's house and had lunch and took a walk over to Cabela's to get out of the house. Daniel preached again Monday night.
Tuesday morning we went to breakfast with a woman and her mother and had a chance to get to know them and minister to them. Later that day we went to lunch with two other members. We loved spending time with the church members! Daniel preached again that night. See a pattern here? :) We had a pie and ice cream fellowship that evening. 
On top of the Rim Rocks with Billings in the background.
On Tuesday we met one of the Montanta Baptist Assocation pastors/missionaries and had lunch at Red Lobster. We learned more about missions in Montana and the need for churches and Christians to partner with their local churches. Pastor Dick drove us around the city and up to the Rim Rocks to look out at the city. It was beautiful with the mountains in the background. We had dinner at one of the church member's home. And Daniel preached that evening. 

On Wednesday we took a drive with the pastor and his wife to Red Lodge up in the mountains. We got to play in the snow for a bit and drive up the mountain to look at some scenic views and then we ate at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. There are several kids that would play on the basketball courts at church so I went to Walmart and bought things to make salvation bracelets/keychains with. I got to sit down with 6 kids and explain what salvation meant using the bracelets. That evening we said our goodbyes to the church members and prayed over them.

We had issues getting home the next day. Our reservations had been canceled because of everything that happened when we were trying to get to MT. Long story short, we sat in Denver for a long time until we were finally given seats on a flight straight to DFW. We got exit row seats and a free dinner out of it though. When all the problems happened while we were trying to get to MT, I blamed Satan. I was thinking that he was trying to keep us from getting to MT for the revival. But now that I look back on the situation, God totally had control the whole time. Our flight from Denver to DFW that we finally got on was amazing. I sat next to a woman who I was able to share the Gospel with and encourage her in her faith. In the end she didn't make any kind of decision, but she did indicate that there was something missing in her life. Planting seeds. :)

We learned a lot from this church and it's pastor. A lot of times we go in with ideas and misconceptions of what a church is supposed to look like. But church is just a building where people can come to hear the Word of the Lord and be accepted because we have something in common - we all love God and His people. This church was unlike any other church we have ever been a part of. Most of the people are hurting. Most of them had some sort of disability. Most of them were considered "outcasts" in regular society. But this church and it's members accepted them. Just as Jesus would have. Christ died for everyone. We all have sins and we all need a Savior. We were very thankful for the opportunity to serve this church and get to know it's members. We had an idea in our heads of what missions in North America looked like, and this trip opened our eyes to a whole other side. Churches like Bethel need help. They need people who are willing to serve and love those that others reject. This church has been faithful to it's neighborhood and members and God has blessed them. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Journey for the Brays

If you know us at all, you know our heart for missions and for the Lord. Since I was a freshman in high school I've always known I wanted to live overseas. Daniel's call was a little later than mine, but nonetheless, that is his heart as well. We moved to Fort Worth so that Daniel could attend seminary and we had intentions of moving overseas and working with the SBC company. Apparently God had other plans. If you've followed the blog or talked with us, you know that for various reasons we backed out of that process and were waiting for God to show us a new plan. Daniel decided to go back to school this semester and complete a different degree. After taking 17 hours this semester, he will graduate on May 10th. He started applying for some pastoring jobs around the US but nothing looked really promising so we continued to pray about what we were supposed to do after graduation.

In February, a sweet friend of mine from high school called to catch up. She and her husband have been serving in East Asia as English teachers at an elementary school since last August. She called to tell me that they were looking for more teachers for the next school year. Everything she was telling us was incredible - almost too good to be true. She sent us some information, we started emailing one of the founders of the organization that helps the teachers find jobs, and started praying. Basically, this organization helps find us a job, we work along side a team of other teachers in a city, we get a salary and housing stipend from the school, and we build relationships and share with the people we meet. We don't have to raise support for our daily living expenses (although we do have to raise some money for moving costs and start up in the city like buying furniture and all the household items we will need). We get to work with a team so we aren't by ourselves in a foreign city. They provide language tutors to help us adjust. There are two good breaks during the school year that we can come home and visit family. For every year we renew our contract with the school, they will provide us with a round trip ticket to come home and see family. It's only a year to year commitment. As far as certification to teach, all that's require right now is a 40 hour online course.

So we're moving to East Asia. In August. We don't really know for how long. We are selling a lot of our stuff, and we will store a lot too. Jack needs to find a new home. We are trying to prepare ourselves for 24hours of travel with a 2 year old. There are a lot of unanswered questions about how this will all work out, but we know that if this is truly something that the Lord has prepared for us, then it will all be taken care of.

Will you pray with us? This is a huge adjustment for all of us, especially for Liam and our families. Will you pray that the money will be there when we need it? Will you pray for our team and the schools we will be working in? And pray for my sanity as I'm trying to organize our life into 3 different categories - what goes with us, what stays behind, and what we get rid of.

We're excited about our new journey!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Liam Micah is 20months old

Well, we missed a few months in here. Oh well. :) Sorry Liam, one day I will not be able to tell you everything that happened between your 16th month of life and your 20th. I'm sure you'll be heartbroken. So let's see if I can remember some of your milestones recently.
Liam's vocabulary has taken off. He knows a bunch of words. He's even starting to put words together to make 2 word scentences. Like "get off", "come here", and the ever popular "no Jack". Pretty much everything revolves around Jack. Haha.
He loves hats, shoes, and socks. He especially likes our hats, his rainboots, and wearing socks on his hands.
Still loves dancing and he's been improving his moves. 
 He likes sitting at the table rather than in his high chair.
He loves dipping his food in ketchup/ranch/whatever else he can dip his food into.
Mr. Independent will not let us feed him anymore. And he likes to use his own silverware rather than his hands. But hands are always there for backup.
He's recently started playing with his puzzles and actually putting the pieces back rather than dumping them out and leaving them on the floor. 
He's been my big helper and can do simple tasks that I ask him.

His Mamaw taught him the Clean Up song and he sings it frequently when he is putting toys away.
He's got a good arm when it comes to throwing a ball. Not to good at catching or kicking.
He loves to throw things away. Most of it doesn't need to be thrown away and we have to fish it out of the trashcan.
He also likes to put dishes in the sink. Even clean ones. Or toys. We find lots of toys in the sink.
He's found that he can splash in the bathtub. And so he does. 
Mommy is no longer in his vocabulary. We are both Daddy now.
Favorite word is definitely No. And it is the response we receive to all questions.
One of his favorite past times is playing in Jack's food. He takes the food and throws it at Jack, and he takes the food and puts it in his water dish.
He's gained a passion for coloring. With pens, markers, crayons, sharpies, highlighters, whatever makes a mark.
His laugh is contagious.
He likes sleeping with his sock monkey which he affectionately named "Me" and one of his blankets.
He loves light switches.
Favorite toys include his barn and the animals, a ball, his tricycle, and his guitar.
Clothing size 18-24mo.
Diaper size 4.
Shoes size 6.
Still waiting on his incisors to come in, but he's been messing with his mouth a whole lot more recently.